Fuller Long have been involved in an appeal in Leeds following the refusal of a retrospective application for the change of use of a single dwelling (C3) into a House in Multiple Occupation (C4). The clients had already completed the conversion of their property from a 3 bedroom residential home to a 5 bedroom HMO, without realising the need for planning permission.
The appellant had previously received the necessary HMO license from Leeds City Council, however shortly afterwards received notice that an unauthorised change of use had occurred as planning permission had not been obtained. A retrospective application was then refused and this is when our client approached Fuller Long for our help in obtaining the necessary consent.
In the decision notice for the refused retrospective application, the Council stated that the addition of another HMO in the area would have a significant detrimental impact on the residential amenity of the neighbouring properties and would further add to the unbalanced population ratio of the area.
The change of use of a residential house to a HMO is normally permitted development, however due to the abundance of student properties in the area, the Council has adopted an Article 4 direction that requires the express consent of the Local Planning Authority.
The local planning guidelines consider that the change of use into a HMO in this area results in the loss of a house which would be suitable for family occupation, in an area of Leeds which is already dominated by student housing. There is the belief that this would have a consequent impact on the vibrancy and sustainability of the community, as the student population is a transient one.
The change of use applied for had already taken place, and the property was in use as an HMO with 5 bedrooms and communal facilities at the time of the appeal. We provided evidence on behalf of our client that there are very few HMOs in the surrounding area, and therefore the change of use at the appeal property was unlikely to have any significant harmful effects either on the nature of the existing housing supply or on the vibrancy and sustainability of the community.
Our client had also signed a Section 106 Obligation agreeing that the property will only be occupied by young professionals rather than by students, negating all of the Council’s previous reasons for refusal. The student population in Leeds is also falling, and so this further removed the worry that an overabundance of students would harm the neighbourhood.
In response to our appeal, the Planning Inspectorate granted permission for the property to be used as an HMO. They agreed with our conclusion that this use would not result in any significant harm to the living conditions of the occupiers of nearby houses, particularly in light of the restriction on the type of occupier.
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